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U.S. Finds 1st 'Murder Hornet' Nest In Washington State

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

Scientists have been trying to track an Asian giant hornet, also known as a murder hornet, back to its nest ever since one was spotted in the U.S. last year. This week, a breakthrough. Here's Karla Salp with the Washington State Department of Agriculture.

KARLA SALP: Ladies and gentlemen, we did it.

SIMON: But not easily. One of the hornets they caught and tagged with a tracking device died. Another chewed the contraption off. I mean, can you blame it? Scientists managed to revive one of the last trapped hornets with strawberry jelly, and off it flew with a team of scientists running after it. Sounds like a cartoon. Researchers came to a tree and stopped. Entomologist Sven-Erik Spichiger heard a buzz and then another.

SVEN-ERIK SPICHIGER: I took a step back and realized we were actually standing right under the nest. We had, in fact, tracked her straight back to where she came from.

SIMON: It's the first nest of murder hornets found in the U.S. And today, the team will try to remove it. They have to work quickly. The hornets are heading into their breeding season.

SPICHIGER: We're going to extract them alive. The easiest thing for us to do is to just simply collect them in a chamber. And that's what the vaccum that helps us to do.

SIMON: The murder hornets earned their nickname because that's how they treat honeybees. They don't know how many more nests are out there, but the scientists say the hunt for the Asian giant hornets will continue until they get every single last one.

(SOUNDBITE OF JOHN CARROLL KIRBY'S "ARROYO SECO") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.